PRODUCT SHOWCASE: ZEISS Solutions Optimize The Measuring Process, Providing Increased Process Reliability In Manufacturing

Due to their high level of precision, measurements performed with coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) will be a key part of the Smart Factory.

"Networked intelligent systems that enable the results to be correlated in real time, calculated and visualized: These will become even more important in the Smart Factory," said Andrzej Grzesiak, senior director of Metrology Systems at ZEISS.

CMMs provide "a master plan" for the other measuring methods because of their extreme precision. Even small, networked solutions enable the metrology engineer to digitalize their day-to-day measuring jobs and network data to make analyses more reliable and efficient. The metrology engineer can then transfer comprehensive information derived from the quality data to the manufacturing and design departments.

Comparable results

At the heart of these networked solutions is the range of measuring systems available for capturing the surface shape of industrially manufactured products. In addition to traditional CMMs with contact and optical sensors, other systems are now being used successfully to perform measuring jobs. This is why the term "coordinate measuring system" is now being established in the relevant standards. Rather than being threatened with extinction, these systems will become more and more important in the manufacturing process. All this will happen in spite of — or, better yet, because of — the increased use of other measuring techniques, such as at-line optical measurements. Increasingly the greatest challenge is being able to compare the results from these different technologies. If all the effects of these various technologies are considered, then comparability is possible. However, this requires considerable time and effort. Thus it is all the more important that today's software solutions, such as ZEISS PiWeb, correlate the results in real time and visualize these data. 

Increasing speed and efficiency

With ZEISS solutions, the measurements in the entire product development process can be optimized, saving operators a significant amount of time when creating the necessary measurement plans with Zeiss Calypso PMI software. For the first time, it is possible to automatically combine the product and manufacturing information (PMI), which is increasingly standard in the CAD model, with the specified dimension, form, and position tolerances in a single measurement plan. This drastically reduces the metrology engineer's workload, and these measuring experts can then invest this extra capacity in defect analysis and prevention, ultimately lowering the reject rate and increasing manufacturing efficiency.  Digitalizing the measuring lab

Thanks to this increase in efficiency, metrology engineers also have more time to analyze the acquired quality data when they know that the ambient operating conditions for the CMMs meet the requirements stipulated by the systems' manufacturers. Since the inspection and measuring tools as well as the test pieces change their properties as temperature and air humidity fluctuate, measuring system manufacturers prescribe certain limit values. The Zeiss Tempar temperature monitoring system prevents unreliable results and thus a potential reduction in quality. This Zeiss system can do one better than employees charged with measuring and recording the temperature. Not only do the sensors distributed around the lab measure the temperature with an accuracy of 25 millikelvin, they are also networked and automatically record the temperature profile for the entire measuring lab. If the values calculated by Zeiss Tempar are outside the specified thresholds, the system warns the operator via an indicator light, color-coded values on the monitor and, if desired, via email. This way, operators can automatically eliminate the possibility that temperature changes in the measuring lab caused deviations from the nominal values. The system also stores the measured data for future use and, if desired, can perform a statistical evaluation for a stipulated time period. Moreover, the ambient temperature data can also be transferred to Zeiss PiWeb and compared with other values

Target-oriented data analysis

Thanks to Zeiss PiWeb quality data management software, measuring technicians can analyze the flow of information, enabling them to drive both product quality and productivity within the company.

"Zeiss PiWeb networks all metrology solutions, compiling all the data acquired from the machines," Grzesiak said.

Networking these systems enables measuring technicians to check if the quality stipulations have been met by using the report function — all in real time and across departmental silos.

Grzesiak has a clear idea how these ZEISS solutions will be further evolved in the future.

"Measuring technology is becoming increasingly intelligent, networked and will continue to reduce operator influence," he said.

One of the many benefits is the comparability of the results, which improves process efficiency and quality.